COVID-19: Tips for protecting you and your staffWhen it comes preventing the spread of novel coronavirus, taking extra precautions and enforcing rigorous hygiene practices are key March 9, 2020 As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect people around the world, many are wondering what can be done to protect themselves and others. There is currently no vaccine available for the virus. As such, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to COVID-19 and to follow strict handwashing and other hygiene protocols, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says. The organization recommends the following: Designate your practice/workplace as a temporary “no handshake zone” Practice good hygiene—remind your staff to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially after using the restroom; before eating; after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; and between client/patient visits). If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 to 95 percent alcohol Place hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and tissues in all exam rooms, meeting rooms, restrooms, break rooms, and other common areas Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth Ensure staff members have received the annual influenza vaccine Impose home isolation for any team members with symptoms of respiratory disease (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, etc.). Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends individuals remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 F [37.8 C]) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. Take steps to prevent the spread of disease among veterinary personnel and to/from clients by following guidelines and procedures laid out in the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) Compendium of Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel (found online here). For the latest COVID-19 updates from CDC, click here. For World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) coverage, click here.